Beethoven’s Life, Liberty And Pursuit Of Enlightenment

Two-hundred-fifty years ago, a musical maverick was born. Ludwig van Beethoven charted a powerful new course in music. His ideas may have been rooted in the work of European predecessors Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Josef Haydn , but the iconic German composer became who he was with the help of some familiar American values: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That phrase, from the Declaration of Independence, is right out of the playbook of the Enlightenment, the philosophical movement that shook Europe in the 18th century. “One way to look at it is what happened after Newton created the scientific revolution: Basically, people, for the first time, developed the idea that through reason and science, we can understand the universe and understand ourselves,” says Jan Swafford, the author of Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph , a 1,000-page biography of the composer. Swafford says the Enlightenment idea embodied in the Declaration of Independence is that the aim of life is to serve

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